Catering Success!

Today, I had my frist big catering job. It was a 30th birthday party with about 55-65 guests. I’ll admit, it was a bit daunting and more than a little stressful to prepare, but in the end I can honestly say I am very proud of us! (Who is “us”? Me, my wonderful fiance who helped me shop, my beautiful friends Kate and Jenn (and Jim!) who helped prepare, and my dear soon-to-be-mother-in-law who was a trooper on the grill.) The party involved hours of menu planning, grocery shopping, cost-calculating, and of course cooking. Jenn, my mother-in-law, and I attended the party and saw it through from set-up to clean-up. Here was our menu:

Appetizers:

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto Caprese Skewers (there are grape tomatoes wrapped inside the prosciutto, they’re just hard to see! They were also drizzled with evoo, but I think that happened after the picture was taken.) Baked Artichoke Dip (with lots of lemon rind and roasted garlic, yum) with Crostini
Main Dishes (Burgers, Hotdogs, Chicken, plus the following!)

Potato Salad (made by Jenn, with lots of fresh dill, carrots, onion, hard boiled eggs, red pepper, and celery. I am not a potato salad person, but this was delicious!)

Macaroni and Cheese (This was a big hit,especially since the weather was cold and rainy – too bad it did not photograph that well! I seriously used about 10 kinds of cheeses! And I used a lot more than normal to make it extra creamy and cheesy.)

Southwestern Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad – with corn, black beans, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and a smokey chili-lime vinaigrette, this is one of my favorite dishes) *UPDATE* Because a few people have asked for this recipe, I have included it at the bottom of this post.

Asian Peanut Coleslaw – again, not a fan of regular coleslaw, but this is something nice and different

Roasted Vegetable Medley with Pine Nuts – I roasted all of these vegetables with a little evoo, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. It’s a beautiful presentation, and I personally think it’s important to have some non-starchy sides at things like this, where the focus is often on the potato and pasta salad!

Greek Pasta Salad -with feta, black olives, cucumbers, red onion, diced tomatoes, and Greek-style vinaigrette

Couscous salad – not shown, but I did couscous, golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, sauteed vidalia onions, wilted baby spinach, and crumbled goat cheese. Drizzled with evoo and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. I thought the taste was delicious and somewhat reminiscent of a Spanish or Moroccan dish, but I think I could have done a little better with presentation. Next time I would use regular dark raisins, or perhaps dried cranberries, for more color. And I would just crumble the goat cheese on top, rather than mixing in, because it all got coated in the couscous and thus completely hidden. Oh well, it’s a lesson learned!

Fruit Salad – can’t go wrong here, we used watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and canteloupe. I also made a fruit dip (cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, a little OJ and vanilla extract) but it didn’t seem to get touched too much, I think maybe people didn’t know what it was. Perhaps next time I would do something with color – maybe using a container of key lime flavored yogurt and a few drops of green food coloring. Just so that people don’t think it is mayo or something ;)
Desserts: The hostess provided birthday cake, and we made a variety of cookies and mini cheesecakes.
Basket o’Cookies: PB&J Thumbrints, Classic Chocolate Chip, and the Best-Ever Oatmeal Raisin

Cheesecake Trio – New York Style with Strawberry Topping, Lemon Gingersnap with Raspberries, and PB Cup
Cheers to summer parties!

UPDATE: Here is the original recipe for the Southwestern Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad. Note, I never put the chips in as I really don’t think it needs it, but I believe lots of fresh cilantro is a must!

8 ounces wagon wheel macaroni, uncooked
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (9 ounce) package frozen corn, thawed
1 cup salsa
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups tortilla chips, crushed 1 avocado, peeled, chopped

Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 large garlic cloves, minced

In medium bowl, combine all dressing ingredients; mix well. Set aside. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain cooked pasta; rinse with cold water until cool. In large bowl, combine beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes and cilantro. Add cooked pasta and dressing to bean mixture; toss until well coated. Stir in half each of the cheese and tortilla chips. Place salad on large serving platter or in large serving bowl. Top with remaining half of cheese; garnish with remaining chips and avocado.

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3 Responses to “Catering Success!”

  1. 1

    Joelen — May 23, 2007 @ 7:07 pm Reply

    What an impressive spread and everything looks wonderful! Great Job Cara!

  2. 2

    Sheri — May 24, 2007 @ 2:47 pm Reply

    Cara – sounds like a great menu. Glad to hear it was a success!

  3. 3

    Jigginjessica — May 28, 2007 @ 8:26 pm Reply

    Sounds like it was really succesful! Everything looks great!

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